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Food web dynamics

Two recent papers by Puget Sound researchers, including one co-authored by a Puget Sound Institute scientist, highlight some of the tools being used to describe food-web dynamics in marine communities.

Zooplankton in the California Current

While at NOAA Fisheries, Puget Sound Institute Research Scientist Tessa Francis and her colleagues at NOAA found that interactions among zooplankton – the foundation of the pelagic food web – vary by climate phase in the Northern California Current. In a paper published in the April issue of Global Change Biology the researchers examined 14 years of plankton abundance data collected off the coast of Oregon. Francis and her co-authors discovered that during “warm” climate conditions associated with positive phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indices, negative interactions such as predation and competition were more common than during “cool” conditions associated with the opposite climate phase.

A food web model of Central Puget Sound

A paper published last February in the journal Estuaries and Coasts introduces a food web model of Central Puget Sound aimed at supporting ecosystem-based management and understanding bottom-up versus top-down control of the Puget Sound food web. The article was written by NOAA Fisheries scientist Chris Harvey and colleagues, and is designed as a tool for testing the effects of management decisions on the entire Central Puget Sound food web.

References:

Francis, T.B., M.D. Scheuerell, R.D. Brodeur, P.S. Levin, J.J., Ruzicka, N. Tolimieri and W.T. Peterson. 2012. Climate shifts the interaction web of a marine plankton community. Global Change Biology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02702.x

Harvey, C.J., G.D. Williams, P.S. Levin. 2012. Food web structure and trophic control in Central Puget Sound. Estuaries and Coasts35(3): 821-838. DOI: 10.1007/s12237-012-9483-1